Shopping for back to school computers

Information Systems Specialist offers advice

There are new models of the Chromebook coming out and they are different from other laptops or tablets.
There are new models of the Chromebook coming out and they are different from other laptops or tablets.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – As students are heading back to school, many parents are looking to upgrade their home computers or buy new computers for their children. Buying electronics can get tricky because there's a lot of options so some parents may not know where to start. Director of Information Systems at 121 Financial Credit Union, Larry Rouse says this is a great time of you to buy computers. Rouse says there has been a big drop in sales of laptop and desktop computers of all types, and the sellers and manufacturers are reducing prices to boost sales leading into the holidays.  The Back to School sales should be pretty good this year, says Rouse.

In the Windows world, one computer is pretty much as good as another, so look for who has the best after the sale support.  Look for at least 4 Gigabytes of RAM and a 1 Terabyte hard disk and Windows 7 Home Premium.  Look for similar specifications in a Mac and make sure you are getting the latest operating system.

When it comes to decided whether or not to buy a used computer, Rouse says refurbished desktops are a great bargain if you're not looking cutting edge performance.  Refurbished desktops can be a good deal, but Rouse says never buy a used mobile device like a laptop or tablet.  They get abused in ways you can't imagine and you are just asking for problems.  Always remember that any time you are buying a refurbished anything to make sure that you understand and agree to return policy and save all the receipts and packaging.

If you're debating on buying a Windows or a Mac computers, Rouse says it's a style choice. For a college student especially, parents need to look at what the computer is going to be used for.  If the student is in a program where they will be working with audio, video, or graphics programs, Mac is the way to go.  But if the student will be doing number crunching, word processing and so forth Rouse recommends going with a Windows based machine.  Keep in mind that for a comparable computer, you will pay two to two and a half times more for a Mac, so the Windows based computers are often a better value if it will do what you need it to do.

A hot item for students this year is iPads and other tablets. Rouse says these can be helpful in eliminating the expensive cost of textbooks. Fortunately now, there are many books available digitally, and these can be downloaded onto a tablet.  Your student doesn't have to lug around a lot of heavy books, they can just carry them in the tablet.  Many college bookstores and other online services have programs that allow a student to rent electronic books for a semester, and the cost savings are significant.  Not all books are available this way, but even if only one or two books a term are available for your student, over a four year program the tablet will pay for itself easily and probably result is huge savings.  A Wifi only iPad can be bought for between $300 - $400 if it can replace five or six physical books, it's well worth the investment. Also many colleges have discount programs with software companies that allow the students to get software for free, or at least deeply discounted.  Make sure to check with the campus bookstore on these, you can save a lot of money.

For more information you can visit www.121FCU.org.